Animal Welfare

The University of Zurich understands the great responsibility that comes with any research involving laboratory animals. It promotes and demands that researchers and animal caretakers treat animals with respect, expertise and responsibility.

Animal welfare at the University of Zurich

UZH regulates those responsibilities with a strict policy based on both the "Basel Declaration" and the Three R principle of “Replace, Reduce, Refine". The animal welfare officers at UZH advise and monitor the researchers. They uphold standards for exemplary animal care, proper staff training, careful planning of experiments, and mitigation of animal distress.

Rat
Rat
Around 11 percent of the laboratory animals used in Switzerland in 2018 were rats. (Image: Frank Brüderli, UZH)

Application procedure and legal framework

In Switzerland, all animal experiments require a permit. The Canton of Zurich has a Commission on Animal Experimentation that closely reviews applications. Commission members include representatives of animal welfare organizations and an ethicist. The commission – representative of society as a whole – performs a careful evaluation of interests, including ethical aspects. The Commission on Animal Experimentation also assesses compliance with the Three Rs (Replacement = Replace the animal experiment with a study that does not involve animals; Reduction = Reduce number of laboratory animals to the absolute minimum; Refinement = Improve procedures to minimize distress and enhance welfare). Alternative methods – insofar as they exist – are chosen consistently and without reservations. 

Only if the Commission on Animal Experimentation is convinced that the findings of the proposed study outweigh the burden on the animals it will recommend that the Cantonal Veterinary Office accept the application, see:

Information on animal experiments and on keeping laboratory animals published by the Veterinary Office of the Canton of Zurich (Veterinäramt des Kantons Zürich, in German)